Aviation Safety Expert Evaluates Role of Avionics Suite in Light Airplane Crash

Aviation Safety Expert WitnessThis case involves a small plane crash in Mississippi that caused significant property damage and resulted in the death of the pilot. On the date of the incident in question an airplane impacted terrain shortly after departure in a residential neighborhood. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed for the flight. The accident pilot flew in the plane the day prior to the accident. The airplane was being used as a trade-in, and the accident pilot planned to fly to another airport with the recently purchased airplane. Several witnesses reported that the airplane was low after takeoff; the airplane then dropped and impacted the roof of an office building. The pilot was employed as a corporate pilot, and held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine and multi engine airplanes. The pilot also held several type ratings for jet airplanes. The amount of flight time the pilot had with the avionics system was unknown; however, during delivery of the airplane another pilot noted that the avionics were new to the accident pilot. It was alleged that the pilot’s lack of familiarity with these new avionic systems caused him to violate aviation regulations, which directly contributed to the fatal crash.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please discuss your background in flight training?
  • 2. Is it possible that the pilot's lack of familiarity with the avionic suite was the cause of the accident?

Expert Witness Response E-009401

Aviation, flight training, and safety are the core competencies of my current position. I have held executive management experience in airplane certification, design, engineering, testing, safety, and operations. I am both a pilot and a flight instructor and I have been reviewing NTSB factual reports throughout my career. In fact, I spent time at the FAA where part of my job was to review these reports. It is certainty possible that new and unfamiliar avionics could cause even an experienced pilot to experience a crash due to operator error, even when the pilot has extensive experience with other aircraft.

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